The trip to Alaska was great. It was beyond our expectations. We got along well, which is a huge accomplishment when a teenage girl is part of the equation! I came home relaxed, happy and calm.
The trip was such a success that Christopher and I are considering a move to Alaska. We wouldn't leave the Madison area until Ashley is out of high school, and likely not until she has finished her first year of college.
There is so much to consider when thinking about a move of this size. We would essentially have to get rid of everything and start over because of the cost of shipping. Are we really prepared to do that? We have spent the last 11.5 years accumulating stuff. I'm all for paring down, but can I really leave everything? I just don't know.
I also don't want Ashley to feel like she no longer has a home. I guess quite a bit will depend on where she goes to college and how well she does that first year. Of course she is always welcome to live with us where ever we are, but if we are in Alaska, will that deter her from coming to visit?
What about health insurance? Our insurance needs to cover her while she is in college. I'm afraid that if we have jobs in AK, that the coverage may be limited to that area, rather than being available where ever Ashley is. Although, so many kids go to school far from where their parents live and that somehow works out. Maybe that shouldn't be my biggest concern.
What about family? We see my parents at least once a month and Christopher's family at least six times a year. We would lose that. There is always phone calls and Skype, but do we want to be that far away from Henry and any other nephews or nieces that we may have?
The cost of living there is very high. Jobs pay more though, and there is no state income tax, so that would help a bit. We would always need to have enough money on hand to get the two of us back to WI or MN in an emergency and enough to get Ashley to AK. We would have to have enough money to replace our belongings, furniture and what not. Not to mention the cost of either driving up or having our car shipped up there.
Will we really be able to be happy living on an isolated island? There is only one town on the island and no roads to get off of the island. The only ways to get to another town are boat or airplane. Will I be able to handle that? There are no big box stores, which shouldn't be a big deal, I like to buy local when I can, but where do people on a small remote island get their underwear? I am totally okay with going to the grocery store, pharmacy and hardware store to get almost everything that we need, but there are some things that just aren't found in those stores. I guess clothes and bed linens would have to be ordered and shipped in. That is fine, it is certainly easy enough to do, but what concerns me is just how different it all is.
Will the short, dark days of winter affect me negatively? Will the almost constant rain make me depressed? Will I miss getting in the car and driving for miles and miles? (There is only 13.5 miles of paved road on the island and a maximum speed of 45 mph.)
I will miss the bounty of the midwest. I now live in the city with the nation's largest farmer's market and I could go to a farmers market every day of the week if I wanted to. Between May and October most of our groceries are purchased straight from the farmers. Up there, there are only 6 farmer's markets a year. How would I get my fresh eggs and bison meat? What about fresh cheese and tomatoes?
I guess the only way to know if we can do it is to plan for it, try to make the lifestyle changes to make it a financial possibility and continue to think about it.